A number of our clients have noticed that their websites have completely dropped out of Microsoft’s Live Search Engine recently. It was first brought to my attention by Gavin Hodges from Flexitank in early October 2007.
We notified Microsoft’s Live Search support team and the response was that there wasn’t a problem with our site. They reassured us that the problem would be looked at - no guarantees of course. It appeared to go no further.
Digging deeper, we found that Microsoft have been radically overhauling their Live Search algorithms and spiders. A new blog, a forum and tools for webmasters were launched which would initially seem like a good move.
Unfortunately for Microsoft and, more importantly, website owners it appears that there are some serious problems at Microsoft Live Search…
Many of the hundreds of posts on the Microsoft Live Search Webmasters forum relate to websites that have recently disappeared from Live Search. The responses by the Microsoft reps to the pleas for help are canned and monotonous. It’s certainly not a reassuring read.
It’s not that the forum administrators don’t want to help, it genuinely appears that they’re being silenced or kept in the dark.
The forum admins are dutifully feeding lines such as:
- Your site has disappeared from Live Search because it doesn’t have good enough backlinks
- You should join an association or start a blog / participate in a blog to get better backlinks
- Our index isn’t big enough to fit everything in, so we left your site out because it wasn’t good enough . . . because of the backlinks.
Not big enough…
The size issue is something I find particularly strange. It raises a number of questions for me:
- Isn’t the index actually shrinking from disposing of all those good sites that don’t have enough good backlinks?
- Is Microsoft’s technology not big enough for the task that Brin and Page performed with Linux and Pizza Boxes?
- Are the technicians at Live Search feeling Google index envy?
Google have a much better way of dealing with this, called the supplemental index. Google know that just because a site does not have many good backlinks does not mean that it has no value. Supplemental results are returned in search results by Google all day every day.
It appears that Microsoft are taking a “head in the sand” attitude to this problem. They’re not acknowledging it or addressing it (at least publicly). Instead they’re blaming their problems on webmasters.
That’s not going to help them to gain, or even hold their dwindling market share. Instead of having a shiny new algorithm to brag about, it’s looking more and more like a bomb that’s just not up to the job.
According to Hitwise, in December 2007 Live Search carried less than 6% of the world’s searches. Compare that to the 65% stake that Google is growing.